Although New Jersey is not a state most known for its accommodations for the visual and performing arts, there are a lot of amazingly talented artists living in our own backyard. As an artist myself, I can tell you that at times it can be frustrating to have a passion for an artform without being able to surround myself with like-minded individuals. There is no replacement for being able to combine one’s creativity with another to make something much greater than your original idea.

When it comes to the Theatre Arts, a lot of performers, designers, and actors would have no choice but to cross state lines into New York or travel even further for an opportunity to meet and network with artists with a similar interest. The New Jersey Theatre Alliance has recently made an attempt to change this for the advantage of the New Jersey artist.

The New Jersey Theatre Alliance is in the beginning stages of introducing an artist membership program which would connect all different types of artists in the area. Jonathon Wentz is a well-known designer, technical director, and scenic artist that has worked all across the country. He happens to be from Whippany, and after 20 years of theater work has just recently designed a set for the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, 10 minutes from his home. Living so close to a venue but never making the networking connection is just an example of how much more could be done artistically in our state with the help of a networking tool.

“The big thing is to network with individuals and theaters, to make more work in NJ,” Wentz said. “To keep artists in the state is the keep them busy.”

Even with as many social networking websites as we have access to today, having a specific theatre forum could really help artists from New Jersey come together and create great art right at home.